13 Signs Of A Controlling Woman

April 18, 2023 |
Signs Of A Controlling Woman
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Do you ever feel like you have lost your freedom after entering into a relationship? Things don’t happen your way anymore, you make sure to keep her happy, and in return, you feel miserable. Well, there are chances that the woman you are madly in love with is actually controlling every aspect of your life. She probably knows it and is perhaps doing it deliberately, and yet, you are here, not even sure if she’s actually a micromanaging partner. That’s why you need to know the signs of a controlling woman and decide how to go about the relationship.

An overbearing woman can hamper every aspect of your life. She can make you feel like you don’t have any autonomy, and that your opinion does not value as much as hers. At the end of the day, it’s always her way or the highway. Since it’s pretty obvious that a relationship cannot survive even if there is subtle controlling behavior, you need to be able to spot it and put an end to it.

Let’s help you decode the signs of a controlling woman with insights from Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation, divorce, dating and premarital counseling. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to spot all the bossy girlfriend signs and assess what your next steps must be.

What Causes Control Issues In Women?

Before we move on to the signs of a controlling woman, it’s important to understand why she’s so controlling. First, you must identify whether she is actually a controlling person or is just trying to be caring. Perhaps you’re used to a bit more freedom than what most relationships have to offer, and the sudden change has caught you off guard.

Next, you must realize that the aspect of control is generally rooted in a person’s childhood, according to a study. The main reason for controlling other people is to protect oneself from helplessness and feeling insignificant. A control freak can wreak havoc on not just their partner’s life but also their own.

The reasons of controlling in a relationship, of course, differ in each relationship. In some, it may be because the controlling partner is projecting their insecurities onto the other. In others, an overbearing woman might be that way so she can protect herself from harm, by making sure their partner never leaves and acts according to her whims and fancies.

If you see the signs of a controlling woman in a relationship, it’s highly likely that those behaviors were instilled in early childhood. That could be a result of unhealthy family dynamics or just learned conduct, wherein a child learns that being controlling is appropriate behavior to integrate into their relationships.

Other studies suggest that being in control may reduce feelings of anxiety and help people cope with stressors. So, it could be a response to all the trust issues that your partner has in your relationship. In other instances, relationship issues such as jealousy, a lack of respect, and insecurities can also be the reason why you see so many signs of a controlling woman in your partner.

Speaking of the signs, let’s take a look at what the manifestations of such behavior really look like. Should you be worried if she wants to know everything about your day down to the minute? Perhaps it’s a clearer red flag when she monitors your relationships? Let’s find out.

13 Signs Of A Controlling Woman To Watch Out For

Talking about the early signs of a control freak, counseling psychologist and psychotherapist, Niki Benjamin says, “Although all relationships require effort, patience, and collaboration (especially during the initial stages), there are some behaviors that could indicate that you are in a relationship with someone who is commonly referred to as a ‘control freak’ or someone who is obsessive about controlling everything around them with no sense of boundaries or autonomy that the other person possesses.”

According to her, controlling behavior would include the following:

  • Angry outbursts: Outbursts of anger when things are not done exactly the way the person expects or wants
  • Rigidness: Firm unwillingness to consider or accommodate other viewpoints
  • Intrusive behavior: A compelling need to monitor or supervise their partner’s way of doing things under the pretext of ‘I have a better way’ or ‘I don’t think you should do it this way
  • Passive-Aggressive tendencies: Being passive-aggressive, giving the silent treatment, or sulking if you disagree with them or until you agree with them

The psychological effects of a controlling woman can be far-reaching, and being in a relationship with one can wreak havoc on your life and mental health. By the time you realize the subtle signs of control in your relationship, you are caught in the web created by your controlling girlfriend or controlling wife.

It takes time to recognize the warning signs because control and care can often be confused for one another. “There is a very thin line between controlling and caring. Most of the time, people control the other person in the disguise of care, not allowing them to be independent enough,” says Shazia.

But you don’t have to think too hard on this one. To understand if she is really a controlling woman you have to see if her temperament matches these 13 signs. If yes, then you know you are in a relationship with a controlling woman.

1. A micromanaging partner will always want things her way

If you are looking at the signs of a controlling girlfriend, this is definitely the first one. She will want things to go her way. God forbid, if that doesn’t happen, she will burst into a fit of rage. Have you ever had to change plans because she didn’t find them convenient?

Then you know what we are talking about. She is dominating and that too to an extent that if things don’t go as per her wishes, she will turn cold and distant instantly, leaving you at the receiving end of the silent treatment. She would bring it up again and again about how you hurt her and that she is just a well-wisher.

She will remain angry at you because you didn’t listen to her and she will start giving you the silent treatment. If genuinely apologizing doesn’t work at all, and you can relate to this, your partner is surely running the show. “Controlling women have a way of always intruding and not letting the other person decide for themselves. When it comes to their relationships, they want to decide everything for others on their behalf,” says Shazia. This means you have no autonomy or free will to be your true self in the relationship.

2. She is disappointed with something or the other

Female controlling behavior is also marked by unrealistically high standards and expectations, owing to which her being disappointed in you becomes a recurrent theme in the relationship. From the shirt you are wearing to the shoes, she would consistently disapprove of something or the other and be with the way you conduct yourself.

If not you, she is disappointed by something in her life – it could be her parents, siblings, your parents, or anyone. It is very hard to please this woman. Something or the other is going to spoil her mood and you’ll be left thinking about what went wrong. These are subtle signs of a controlling woman that you will understand over time.

All of it drains out so much of your energy in order to build this relationship that at the end of the day, you feel skeptical about your decision to enter this relationship in the first place. This sign of a controlling woman in a relationship can also make you question yourself constantly since you now don’t have too much confidence in yourself. Be careful not to fall prey to gaslighting in your relationship.

Related Reading:12 Warning Signs Of Gaslighting And 5 Ways To Deal With It

3. She complains a lot about people who are unlike her

This is a peculiar sign of a controlling woman. She is so self-obsessed that she cannot see the good in others. You will find her complaining about or berating every other person on the planet because that person functions differently than her. She knows she doesn’t have the power to change people and make them like her, so she badmouths them.

Also, if your girlfriend or wife is a controlling woman, you’ll often see her with very few or no real friends. This is one of those things that utterly annoys men, but women do it anyway. Even if she has a huge social circle, she would never be happy because she does not consider any of them her friends.

Women who are controlling have a compulsive need to have things done a certain way. Since not everyone in the world will treat them like the princesses they think they are and bend over backward to please them, their inner circle of people is either exceptionally small or non-existent.

Similarly, she monitors your relationships and makes sure to say a few bad things about the people you’re close to. Especially if those people challenge her controlling behavior. The next time she’s talking rudely about all your friends, know that it may indicate something more than just her not liking them.

4. She wants you to be available for her ALL the time

When a controlling woman is in love, she shows clingy girlfriend signs too. This tendency is particularly pronounced in female controlling behavior. For them, you are their own and they will want to keep you by their side ALL the time. I repeat, ALL the time. If you have a controlling wife or girlfriend, she will ask you to tag along everywhere and you won’t be in a position to refuse.

She will expect you to answer every call, and respond to each of her texts, and she will not wait for replies. If you don’t respond instantly, she may call you and go full blast. These are absolutely controlling girlfriend signs that you need to pay heed to.

women who are controlling
A controlling girlfriend gets clingy

Give her late replies and you have given her another thing to get disappointed about. The problem with these women is that they want to be your top priority, but when it comes to prioritizing you, they won’t be found anywhere. Controlling women are often selfish in nature. When you ask her to be there for you, she’ll make time after finishing other important ‘unavoidable’ tasks of her life.

5. She gets embarrassed by you very easily

She would want you to accompany her everywhere she goes because she likes your company, but if your girlfriend or wife is manipulative and controlling, one sign of that would be her constant instructions to behave in a certain way in front of her friends or colleagues.

It’s as if she’s presenting an award and asking that award to look like an award. She is a high-maintenance woman, both emotionally and materialistically. When you try to be yourself and probably crack a joke which she doesn’t find funny, you’ll be met with big eyes, which will shut you up right there.

If you’re being meted out an infant-like treatment rather than being treated like an equal partner in the relationship, recognize it as one of the early signs of a controlling woman and take corrective measures before it’s too late. The effect of a controlling girlfriend or wife is such that you gradually lose your self-esteem. If this has ever happened to you, try talking to her about it.

Bring up this in your conversations, ask her if she’s actually embarrassed by you and that is why she is so insecure about your persona in front of other people. This is nothing but mental abuse, don’t let your controlling girlfriend do this to you.

Related Reading: What Is Stonewalling And How To Deal With It?

6. She won’t let you have your personal space

Another one of the classic characteristics of a controlling woman is that she will kill your personal space. “Not giving personal space in a relationship is among the most telling signs of a controlling woman. In the name of love or care, people curb the privacy of others, making them feel guilty about anything they try to do of their liking,” says Shaiza.

You like to stay up late and hang out with your friends and play some video games but she won’t like that. She neither likes your friends nor the fact that you stay out late with them. She is going to enforce strict rules on you. You’ll constantly receive assertive messages like, “Get home NOW.” And of course, when you try to go against her wishes, the silent treatment begins again. That’s one of the clearest bossy girlfriend signs.

It is very hard to deal with a controlling girlfriend or wife. Most of the time, she just doesn’t want to understand your side of the story. She is a didactic person and will never consider your point of view about anything. The only solution is to sit her down and talk to her calmly and tell her how not to be a controlling girlfriend.

If that doesn’t work, hurt her ego about 5-6 times, until she stops telling you what to do and what not to do. When you don’t listen to her, she will feel bad and stop saying it until you miss it. That’s your door to freedom.

7. She wants to know every little detail of your life

When we talk about personal space, checking the phone is a common way of invading your privacy. For her, there is no you and her, there is “us,” but that “us” is only when it comes to you. When it comes to her, she knows where to draw the line and protect her privacy. But the same rules don’t apply to you.

controlling women
She interferes in everything and even checks your phone

She’ll never say that she doesn’t trust you, she’ll just do it casually to know what you do. She’ll check your history to see what kind of porn you watch and check your WhatsApp messages. You can’t do anything about it because the minute you ask for your phone or try to snatch it away, you’ll see her face turning red with anger.

Make no mistake, this isn’t subtle controlling behavior, it’s a definite red flag. “Why are women so controlling?” you may wonder, as you watch her scroll through your private chats, emails and social media activity. Well, not all women are controlling. However, your partner certainly seems to be one.

What you can do is draw a line, and set relationship boundaries. Start asserting that there are things you do not appreciate and phone checking is one of them. This will make her feel very uncomfortable and fidgety because that is a common behavior pattern in controlling women but gradually, she’ll get used to it. It might take her a few days or weeks to get out of her habit.

8. She wants to decide every little detail of your life

Not only does she want to know everything, but she also wants to make all your decisions for you. This includes your expenditure as well. Among the telling signs of a controlling woman is that when she enters your personal zone, she makes sure to go all in. The most obvious thing about controlling people is their ability to make decisions for everyone.

If you are in love with a woman with such behavior traits, she is going to decide everything from what perfume you buy to how much you spend every month. These can start as subtle controlling behavior and take on a greater dimension later. Whether you like it or not, she’ll become your financial planner and she’ll have all your bank account passwords.

Money issues are known to ruin a relationship, but she wouldn’t care. If you have a controlling wife, she has probably made herself a nominee in your bank account. Not just this, she’ll restrict you from spending on things you love because, according to her, those are all unnecessary expenses.

Women who are controlling tend to be overbearing. To deal with such a person, the best way is to start ignoring her orders. If she requests you or talks coolly about financial matters, respectfully tell her why you’re comfortable doing it. She is going to lose her mind if you don’t follow her advice but she will have to learn the hard way that you are not yet ready to be governed financially. Tell her she has to learn how not to be a controlling girlfriend.

9. She is very, very, very short-tempered

“Behaving in an inappropriate manner or getting angry if things don’t work out the way they wanted are common characteristics of a controlling woman,” says Shazia. So much that you are scared of her. She is not just short-tempered, she gets red in the face, her eyes go from almonds to lemons, her nose and chest puff up and she looks like she wouldn’t waste a minute to kill someone.

At times, it gets scary. You are too afraid to upset her because by now, you know the consequences of her anger. She can shout at the top of her voice to make herself heard. And so, you think it’s better to keep quiet. This is one of the tell-tale signs of a controlling partner. Well, try not to be scared. In most cases, controlling women use anger as a weapon to shield their behavior patterns.

It justifies everything for them. Try to stick to your opinion or decision despite her anger. She’ll be hurt but you’ll get your way out. And if that doesn’t work, probably it’s time to tell her that it’s not working anymore. The more you feel fearful, the more you are letting the effects of a controlling woman govern your life. These are some of the things a controlling woman does to kill her marriage herself.

Related Reading I Can’t Control My Anger And It Causes Fights

10. She genuinely enjoys controlling

Sometimes you feel like cooperating with her because controlling is just a behavior trait and she is trying to change herself. You feel that you have just noticed the early signs of a controlling woman and when you make your displeasure clear, she will change her ways.

Well, you should know once a person starts getting control of other people’s lives, he/she is unstoppable. They start enjoying the position of power and would not want to give it up. Even if you think she is trying to change, make sure you see the change happening otherwise, it’s a futile activity.

Is she really trying to understand how to not be a controlling girlfriend? If her temper subsides and if she interferes less, then maybe she is trying hard. But even then, she may not be able to completely let go of her tendencies on her own. If your controlling wife or girlfriend really wants to change and make the relationship work, you must encourage her to seek professional help.

Emotional abuse

11. She could do emotional blackmail

Women who are controlling can also be extremely sly about exerting their control. She may not be overly controlling all the time. Yet, she may be controlling you without you even realizing it half that time. That’s because she uses her subtle controlling behavior.

Sometimes, in the form of puppy eyes, or pleading requests, or tears or anger, or worst of all, emotional blackmail. All these are signs of control. It is really important to know when it is happening and bring it to her notice so that she can stop manipulating you.

She probably won’t stop but you would be able to make an informed decision if you want to be with your controlling girlfriend. Maybe identifying her behavior for what it is can help you make up your mind about getting out of a controlling relationship.

Learning to decipher the controlling girlfriend signs or understanding your wife’s controlling tendencies is the first step toward reclaiming control over your own life. So when you spot these subtle manipulative ways of exerting control, don’t turn a blind eye to them.

12. She puts herself on a higher pedestal

As we mentioned in the beginning, the reasons of controlling a relationship are different for every woman. However, for women who are control-freaks, hierarchy is really important. She has to be better than you in every aspect in order to be considered reliable. She will make you count all her achievements at least once a month in order to boost her ego and position in the relationship.

“She may achieve that by always putting pressure on you or blaming you if something goes wrong, and at the same time, taking credit for every good thing in the relationship,” explains Shazia. The female controlling behavior thrives on one-upmanship.

She will fit the idea of her being better than you in your head so much that you will turn to her for anything. These are absolute signs of a controlling woman that should be a warning to you. If she is actually better, there is nothing wrong in asking for advice, but if all of this is just a layer of her behavior, you better part ways with her. In the long run, you will not have pleasant memories with a woman like that.

13. You can never argue with her

What she does when she is angry is use harsh words, cuss words just to belittle you or shut you up. Saying hurtful things comes naturally to her. A person who does that is by any definition, toxic. She is a controlling woman when she even controls your thoughts, your articulation, and your emotions.

It is best that you let her be and run as fast as you can because living with a person like that for the rest of your life is going to affect your mental health in unimaginable ways. The signs of a controlling woman are often very evident but we just tend to overlook them because we are in love. The bitter truth is that a controlling person, man or woman, is not good for anybody’s mental or emotional health.

Today or tomorrow, disparities will surely enter because your level of tolerance will be tested by this person again and again. If you have realized that your girlfriend or wife is controlling, try to talk to her about it patiently, counseling also helps. An experienced therapist can help her understand where her need for such tight control is stemming from and help her manage her triggers better.

You can consider seeking help from a licensed therapist on the Bonobology panel and help your partner take the first step toward healing. However, if she isn’t ready to accept her controlling ways and make a change, you must consider getting out of the relationship.


1. What causes control issues?

The main reason for controlling other people is to protect oneself from helplessness and feeling insignificant. Control issues are often embedded in childhood when a person grows up with toxic parents.

2. How can you tell if a woman is controlling?

Clinical Psychologist Niki Benjamin says, “You know a person is controlling when they show signs like outbursts of anger when things are not done exactly their way. Firm unwillingness to consider other viewpoints, a compelling need to monitor their partner’s way of doing things, and being passive-aggressive if you disagree with them or until you agree with them.”

3. What happens in a controlling relationship?

In a controlling relationship the partner, who is at the receiving end of controlling behavior, suffers from anxiety and constant fear of their partner losing their temper. They also develop low self-esteem.

4. How do I deal with a controlling woman?

Assert yourself, create healthy boundaries and tell her she can’t breach them. Try to talk to her about it patiently and tell her how it is affecting your mental health. Go for relationship counseling if need be.

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Readers Comments On “13 Signs Of A Controlling Woman”

  1. My sister is controlling. She fits all the above criteria—everything has to be done her way; else, she goes into a rage and must be placated with many groveling apologies and much praise and reassurance. I have had my share of experiences with such women–and one man. You cannot appease the control freak. Everything you do is wrong. Only thing to do is to draw a line in the sand, and, often, this means ending the relationship.

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